DLA Aviation lends one of its own to national COVID-19 response

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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A Defense Logistics Agency contracting officer with firsthand experience responding to a crisis is helping the agency’s Rapid Deployment Blue Team support U.S. Army North medical and logistics units responding to COVID-19.

DLA Aviation’s Efrain Acevedo Santiago, known by his peers as “Ace,” deployed with the DLA Headquarters-level RDT in early April to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, from his office in Huntsville, Alabama. He joined one of three DLA RDTs in 2018 after seeing the devastation Hurricane Maria caused to his native Puerto Rico.

The cross-functional, 13-member teams deploy on short notice to provide logistics support during emergencies and contingencies. As the RDT’s DLA liaison officer for the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Acevedo is tracking supply requests, conducting market research and educating the command on DLA’s capabilities.

The team was augmented by DLA employees already at locations like JBSA to allow some members to support via telework due to travel restrictions.

“We went from a 13-member to a 20-member team, with the majority working from their respective houses across the U.S.,” he said. “Having subject matter experts in different areas like disposition, distribution, legal, etc., was insurmountable when it came to answering every question asked by our customers. The amount of knowledge my teammates have brought to this team is second to none.”

The gravity of the RDT’s mission struck Acevedo as he and the RDT commander drove across the Louisiana-Texas state line and were required to report their business to Texas’ Public Safety Department, he said.

A retired Army combat engineer, Acevedo has spent the past two years managing the procurement of helicopter parts for the Army Logistics Center at Redstone Arsenal as the Army Depot Repairable Site Aviation Division chief of DLA Aviation’s Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate. He joined DLA nine years ago as an intern and previously deployed for DLA in November 2018 with a team responding to the migrant crisis at the Texas border, where he assisted in the management of contracts for the 4th Infantry Division’s Operational Contract Support Integration Cell.

George Scheers Jr., Acevedo’s boss and director of procurement operations for DLA Aviation in Huntsville, described Acevedo as “the guy who always finds a way, never complains and makes everyone around him better.”
 
“It doesn’t matter if we are writing a contract, building a bridge or baking a cake. Teammates like Ace are the clear choice to ensure success,” he said.